22nd August 2020
After all the negative experiences of Uni I have shared on my blog I thought I would write one more focussing on the positives of uni. By doing so I just wanted to reassure other autistics out there that if you want to go to Uni, it is possible. Despite all the negative experiences, I have learnt a lot and I still stand by my choice of going to Uni. After posting my previous blogs, I’ve had a lot of other autistic people comment on how they were unable to attend Uni because of the severe anxiety or due to having a difficult time at school which affected their opportunities. I too had a difficult time at school but luckily for me, my grades weren’t affected. So, on a wider note, I would also like to say, I understand how difficult the concept of Uni is for an autistic person. Personally, I think the education system needs to change so that education becomes more bearable for those who struggle with the education system. Maybe one day it could change so much so that people like me could not just survive school, but even thrive there.
Anyway, one of the biggest positives I got out of going to Uni is a growth in confidence. I have always been shy and self-deprecating. The closer Uni got, the more I thought I wouldn’t be able to do it. But I proved to myself that I was able to do and that has given me a lot more self-confidence. It has also given me confidence for the future. Living alone was so scary for me. I’ve always relied on my parents to help me through meltdowns and burnouts, they have always been fighting my corner. So, living alone, I felt so vulnerable. Although I had some help and support from them, I still managed all my meltdowns and tough moments on my own. It gives me hope that I will be able to manage myself in the future. It also allowed me to learn more about myself. After going to Uni, I recognise more triggers and just generally have a better understanding of myself.
Also, living on my own meant I was out there dealing with social situations by myself. Yes, I encounter a lot of conflict, but I learnt how to deal with this. Yes, I had tonnes of support, but meeting new people and dealing with conflict means that I will be more prepared, and less shocked if I were to come across people like that in the future. I remember crying on the phone to my parents and they were explaining to me that I was finding it so tough because I’m mixing with people I wouldn’t normally mix with. I was dealing with types of personalities I had never encountered before, I was dealing with extremely confident people who I tended to steer clear from for most of my life. Although it didn’t go well, at least I can say I did it, and I now have experience of dealing with people I wouldn’t normally mix with, which is a key skill I will need when I start working (will cross that bridge when we come to it, because right now working seems like the scariest thing in the world). But socially, I didn’t come across just bad people or people I didn’t get along with, I also made some amazing friendships. Not only that but I also got into a relationship with an amazing guy. All of this would never have happened if I hadn’t gone to Uni. So, I’m beyond thankful for the friends I’ve made. Besides, I still had all my friends back here at home who were all very supportive, so I was never completely alone.
I can’t forget how much I have loved my course as well. I have always loved English and learning and researching Literature has been amazing. I’ve learnt so much because the thing is with English is that it incorporates almost everything. I learnt not just about the literature but about politics, history, philosophy and just generally how society works. I think it was the best choice I made to study English because it’s something I never get bored of.
Finally, the most important part is the fact that I’ve done things I’ve never done before. Well actually all the things I have done up until have ben things I never thought I would be able to do. During my mock GCSEs (I failed most of them because I refused to do them….) I never thought I’d pass my GCSEs (particularly maths), but I did. Never thought I would be able to cope during my voluntary expedition to Cambodia which was 4 weeks away from home. But I did it and it was one of the best things I ever did. I never thought I would be able to get out of ICC even though I hated it, but after Cambodia, I had the confidence to move to Hazelwick Sixth Form. Never thought I would cope with A-levels, but I did. Never thought I would manage to get all the way through Uni, living away from home but I did. Never thought I’d make friends at Uni but I did. My confidence became on so much of a high that I even managed to get my first tattoo (and then two more) which I never thought I’d manage (not good with pain at all, and not good at talking to strangers). So actually, when I think about it, all these things I never thought I’d be able to do, but I just went and did them anyway. So, what I would say to anyone like me is, even if you think you can’t do it, if it’s something you really really want, then go for it. That’s not to say you need to push yourself into absolutely everything because that can become too tiring. Like for me I got fed up of trying to do things myself at Uni which I couldn’t do, like going shopping (shops are a nightmare). It’s getting the balance between not feeling embarrassed to admit you can’t do something, no matter how stupid people think you are (which you definitely aren’t), and believing that you can do something if you really want it. For example, I still don’t answer my phone when people call, I never answer the door even if it’s my delivery, and I almost never go to the shops by myself, people might think that’s stupid but I’m not afraid to admit that I can’t do those things by myself. Maybe one day I’ll be able to but I’m willing to take all the help I can’t get in the meantime. Because of all of those things I can’t do I never thought id be able to do the bigger things that I desperately wanted to do like Uni, but I did. So, my point is to not put yourself down and immediately write things off. I’m still working on taking my own advice, because I have a very negative mindset when it comes to myself, so I still write things off when I shouldn’t. But one day I will get there.